The architect, José Banús’ first idea was to design and build high rise, high end apartments for wealthy folk in the area we now know as Puerto Banús.
If he had pursued that notion then Puerto Banús, resting on the Costa del Sol coast between Marbella and San Pedro, would be a different place indeed. Fortunately, he was persuaded out of his original intention. Instead, in 1970, he built a luxury marina and shopping complex in the style of an Andalusian fishing village. He cast his line and the biggest fish came, in their streamlined yachts and supercars, to spend and display their wealth on and around the marina José Banús had created.
Little has changed today. Seen from the sea on a sunny day, Puerto Banús is best viewed with a shaded brow. It is a brilliant cacophony of whitewashed buildings, each peering over the shoulder of its neighbour to get a better view of the show on the waterside.
Day or night, vehicles of breath taking sleekness snake their way through the crowds on Banús’ seafront, carrying beautiful people to the many designer shops that line the marina. Dior, Gucci, Versace and Bvlgari all trade their wares here, their minimalistic window displays facing out to the ocean, welcoming in the owners of such sea- faring vessels that fantasies are built on!
Which makes Puerto Banús such an attraction to visitors who arrive by more modest means. They are happy to while away a leisurely afternoon yacht gazing, taking lunch at one of the varied restaurants and bars beside the water or simply strolling, ice cream in hand, to experience the slightly surreal, but not unpleasant, atmosphere of two different worlds colliding. There are beaches on either end of the marina for those wishing to feel a little rarefied sand between their toes.
A short walk back from the marina is ‘El Corte Inglés’, Spain’s upmarket department store. Carrying many designer brands, the store also has within it a Hipercor supermarket where fresh produce can be bought. Artistic floor displays entice you to justify holiday extravagance, there is always a sale on in one of the departments and the shop’s fierce air conditioning brings the added bonus of blessed relief in the height of the summer months! For those preferring an al fresco shopping experience, the outdoor market, boasting over 120 stalls, is held next to the bullring every Saturday.
By night, Puerto Banús is a lively hive of different types of people joined together in the pursuit of a good time. Amongst the revellers can be found the stag and hen weekenders, the late season golfers and the rich and famous. Banús offers entertainment for all. There are bars and clubs to accommodate those who wish to dress up for the night, eat good food and drink fine wine. And in the street behind the harbour, locally known as ‘the back line’, there is a rowdier atmosphere where bars and clubs offer drink deals to entice customers through their doors and dancing is de rigueur ‘til dawn.
Travel a short distance inland from Puerto Banús and as the sound of club music and Lamborghini exhausts begin to fade you will have reached the area of Nueva Andalucia. A perfect foil for the high octane atmosphere of Puerto Banús, Nueva Andalucia is a green and lush terrain of understated calm and exclusivity.
Backing onto the mountain of ever changing moods, ‘La Concha’ (the shell), it is an oasis of large terracotta villas and waves of luxury apartments in secluded gated communities. Its residents are far from segregated however, as Nueva Andalucía is a community within itself. Boasting restaurants, gyms and sports clubs, the Centro Plaza shopping centre and a large open air market every Saturday of the year, Nueva Andalucia maybe be peaceful but it is far from dull.
Travel 15 minutes inland from Puerto Banús and Marbella, up the winding mountain road above the Guadalmina River and you will reach the prestigious gated community of La Zagaleta.